MCCALLA, Ala. (WIAT) — Family and friends gathered at the McCalla Memorial Funeral Home for the funeral of 75-year-old James Morrison of Bessemer.
Morrison disappeared the night of January 3, 2016 and on July 4, 2016 the van he had been driving the night he went missing was found burned in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Shelby County near Helena.
Deputies said a body was also located at the scene which the family believes to be Morrison’s.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said the Shelby County Coroner’s Office released the remains to the Morrison family, but no update on the investigation was available at this time and that final identification of the body has not been confirmed. Investigators have not announced any potential scenarios or suspects related to the death.
Morrison’s sister tells CBS 42 News that it’s a frightening crime. Their shock, hurt and fear is magnified by the lack of answers. 75-year-old Morrison reportedly suffered from dementia and his sister believes someone took advantage of him in the events that led up to his death.
Morrison was a member of Grant Street Baptist Church. He was also a military veteran. There was an honor guard of patriot riders to show support for the family at the funeral.
He was to be laid to rest at the American National Cemetery in Montevallo.
“He was a Vietnam War vet. He was on the National Guard. Just a great guy, a veteran around the church, just a lovable guy. Everybody loved him. In the community he was looked up to as well and just a great guy all around,” said Pastor Jeff Hughes, Grant Street Baptist Church. “We’re just grieving with his family today. We know it’s a difficult time for them. There’s still a lot of questions. They’re looking for answers and we just want to be there for them and love them through what’s happening. And to do that we’re doing a lunch for them today and we’ve tried through this whole process to be there for them, to lift them up and just do whatever we can to help.”
Pastor Hughes said the church is asking for prayers for the family and for law enforcement officers who are trying to solve the case.
“We need those prayers, pray for this family and pray for law enforcement that they can, they can truly find out exactly what happened, bring closure for this family,” said Grant. “To lose a family member that way, for him to be missing for so long and just no answers and the way, the way things have happened they’re still… still looking for answers right now.”
Morrison leaves behind a wife of 43 years, two sons, a daughter, two granddaughters, a brother, a sister, and several nieces, nephews, and friends.
A missing person’s flyer that was circulating said that he suffered from several medical conditions and contained the following information about his vehicle and clothes the night he disappeared.
Morrison was last seen wearing blue jeans, a tan hat with “Jesus Loves Me” on it and a plaid shirt near Pelham High School around 8 pm on January 3rd, 2016. He was driving a 2014 black KIA Sedona with the License Plate #4C9F4.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Bessemer Police Department are working together closely on the investigation. Deputies are urging anyone with information about the case to contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office directly at (205) 669-4181 or through the Secret Witness line at (205) 699-9116. Tips can also be reported through the “Report Criminal Activity” link on their website www.ShelbySO.com.